Q Union: Pondering how Christianity should influence culture

Written by: Jake Love, staff writer

photo curtesy of liberty.edu

DAYTON, Tenn. — Bryan College hosted Q Union on Thursday Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Stophel Center. Q Union is a worldwide event in which Christian speakers discuss Christianity’s role in the secular world.

Students, professors and Dayton residents gathered to see freshman Faith Simmons, sophomore Carlos Portillo and senior Titus Prude speak.  Christian leaders Malcolm Gladwell, Rebekah Lyons and Francis Chan also spoke through livestream. 

Inside the Stophel Center.

One hundred and fifty locations around the world participated in Q Union at the same time, viewing the same livestream, with 25,000 guests in total taking part.

A group called Q, founded by Gabe Lyons, put on the event. The group’s name stands for question, which gives a clue as to what the mission of Q Union is—to ask and discuss vital questions about what the Christian lifestyle should be like. While introducing himself in the livestream, Lyons said,“We, as Christians, need to have meaningful conversations.” 

The session centered around the topic of Christianity’s role in changing secular culture. “What do we create in order to change the culture?” said Lyons. “We change culture by creating more [of it].” 

Journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell spoke first, discussing the topic “Talking to Strangers.” 

He opened by telling the story of one of America’s best intelligence agents, whose alias was “The Mountain Climber.” Many called the Mountain Climber the best secret agent in the world; he was highly revered. But, after running a CIA operation in Cuba for years, he discovered that every agent who had worked for him there was a doubleagent that worked for the Cuban government. 

Gladwell used this example to illustrate how all people are easily fooled, whether they’re an incompetent person or the world’s best government agent. However, he didn’t say that was a bad thing, but rather that it’s good to be trusting.

He used the example of a school bus driver—a parent must trust that the bus driver is who he says he is, or else the child won’t get to school. Put simply, people must be trusting to get ahead in life. He taught that although a trusting person might get burned from time to time, placing trust in strangers is always important, and failure to do so can badly affect someone’s life and soul. 

Freshman Faith Simmons followed Gladwell with her topic “Loving Uncomfortably.” 

Simmons pointed out how in culture, love is often thought of as a feeling rather than a choice, leading people to only form relationships with those who are similar to or agree with them. She posed the question, “Are we associating with people based on choice, not feeling?”  

She reminded the guests how loving all people is an irrevocable call. She also expounded upon how selfish love, the kind that makes one stay in the comfort zone, makes love stagnant and shallow. Above all, Simmons emphasized how Christians must love and care for all people who are different from them, even though it may make them uncomfortable, because it is reflective of God’s love. 

Bryan student Carlos Portillo spoke next, his topic being “The Root of Brokenness.” 

He spoke on how that root, for many, is a longing for a father they might not have a relationship with, a void that can be filled by knowing one’s heavenly Father. 

Carlos Portillo speaks at the Stophel

He opened up about his own experience of fatherlessness, sharing that he still bears wounds from it. He used this to emphasize how being a mentor to people who are broken because of fatherlessness, widowhood and abuse is important. He spoke on how lifting up those who are struggling is a reflection of God’s fatherly love for us, which is vital to people who are broken. 

Portillo spoke about his relationship with some of his mentors from school, and how they had a positive impact on his life and faith. He also recounted his experience as being a spiritual mentor to those younger than him, and how that experience also helped him to grow and heal. He closed by asking the audience, “Will you go and reflect the love of the heavenly father to a culture who aches and longs to know their dad?” 

Author Rebekah Lyons spoke after Portillo via the livestream, pondering the topic of “Establishing Daily Rhythms.” 

She shared about her experiences with anxiety and depression, and how establishing healthy routines allowed her to overcome that and focus on God and her family. She taught on how things like getting enough sleep and having inner peace restore us to healthy living, which is part of God’s intent for us. She outlined the importance of healthy daily rhythms like those, which are useful to everyone. 

Francis Chan (right) and Gabe Lyons (left)
shown on livestream.

Pastor and Author Francis Chan, who was upset that he could only speak for nine minutes, followed Lyon with his topic “Build True Community.” 

He opened his time with a prayer, begging God to give him the right words to say to the multitudes. 

After closing his prayer, he spoke on revealing the uncensored Gospel in its entirety to the world. He relayed how the church shouldn’t reveal it in bits and pieces, as is common practice in some places. Citing the Apostle Paul, who made it a point to tell people the truth about sin and the necessity of repentance and sanctification, Chan emphasized how Christians shouldn’t make the Gospel all about sunshine and double rainbows, but should teach it in untampered form. 

Student Titus Prude closed out the speeches with his topic, “An Emotional God.” 

Prude asked the audience to ponder God’s emotionality, relating how it can be difficult to understand how the most powerful Being in the universe could really be “In His feelings.” He cited the instance when Jesus famously wept at the death of Lazarus while already knowing He was going to bring Lazarus back to life. Prude used the reality of God’s feelings of joy, sorrow, love and zeal to emphasize the importance of being genuine with our emotions, and how God is far from a distant, stone-faced ruler. 

Jack Saunders closed out the event with a short QandA session between the guests and the three student speakers. 

Portillo’s answer to a question was striking as particularly important. When asked how Bryan College can form a more centralized community, he responded by relaying advice he’d received from Nick Pacurari in conversation: “You change the world one person at a time.” 

Bryan College will host another Q Union in the future; the date is TBA. 

Jake Love is a staff writer for the Triangle. He is an English major with an emphasis on creative writing and commutes from Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. He enjoys reading and consuming large amounts of caffeine.